Pupils present their ideas to tackle social mobility

Students from high schools and colleges across the Norwich Opportunity Area have bid for £10,000 in funding for projects that will improve social mobility in the city.

The Norwich Opportunity Area Youth Board, chaired by Chloe Smith MP, launched a challenge in January, offering young people the chance to develop a new project, funded by the Norwich Opportunity Area. Their task was to help raise young peoples’ aspirations and overcome the key factors that may hold them back from achieving their potential – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The teams took the challenge back to schools and presented their ideas on Friday (9th March) to a panel of judges – Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Chris Smith, Department for Education Lead for Norwich Opportunity Area, Kieran Miles, Founder of KakeCo and #digitalcity and Jasmine Mickleburgh, Young Commissioner for Norwich Youth Advisory Board.

Pupils from Sewell Park Academy impressed judges with their idea for a student exchange, arranging trips for students in Norwich schools to visit schools in areas with high social mobility, such as London, so that they could share ideas of what works.

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form presented “Pathways to Success”, a website designed to link young people with experts in a range of fields, while students from The Hewett Academy suggested a programme of community workshops designed to support families and young people in areas such as literacy, employability and financial literacy.  Several schools recommended an aspirational event, highlighting local success stories of Norwich people who demonstrate that anything is possible.

The judges were impressed by the quality of the ideas that came from students.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: “I was thrilled to hear young people bringing some great ideas about how we can spread the word in Norwich and help to improve young people’s life chances. And there’s still time to get involved – we want to hear from young people across this city who could help make the Opportunity Area project a success.”

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It was great to hear ideas from the young people themselves. They had clearly thought about the challenges and worked to identify possible solutions. They’d come up with some really innovative ideas and I look forward to seeing the winning projects come to life.”

The Norwich Opportunity Area Partnership Board will announce on Friday 16th March which projects will receive funding, and young people from the Youth Board will play a key role in project management and delivery.  The challenge has encouraged lots more young people to join the Youth Board to make a positive impact on social mobility in their city.

Norwich was announced as one of 12 Opportunity Areas in October 2016 by Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening. The Norwich Opportunity Area Youth Board was established in September 2017 to ensure that the voice of young people in the city is heard as part of the main Opportunity Area programme.

To find out more, visit the Norwich Opportunity Area page

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